Are effective administrators a cost or an investment?

I’m often frustrated when firms in the consulting world consider their administrators and office support staff as an unfortunate but necessary cost of doing business.

As a result of the fee structures inherent in many consulting firms were only consulting time is billed to a client (whether it be legal, marketing, management, accountancy etc.), support roles are destined to be considered as simply a cost of doing business in supporting the work of specific consultants.  I’m referring here to the often devalued work to the many effective coordinators, executive/personal assistants, book-keepers and business and office managers.

Are effective administrators a cost or an investment?

Their remuneration generally remains static irrespective of the consulting outcomes that they help facilitate.  For example whilst an experienced consultant’s earning potential is often uncapped  and reach the hundreds of thousands or millions, their executive assistant, receptionist and project coordinators might have static remuneration packages set between $50,000 and $75,000.

However, this type of thinking is outdated, short sighted and conducive to poor business.

Effective administrators facilitate the smooth running of day to day business and can make good consultants great.  They present clients with properly prepared, resourced and confident consultants who are well positioned to effectively deliver their services.   Many act in roles which are heavily client facing and consequently form an important part of the consulting project, whether it is specifically billed for or not.  Effective administrators add value that often makes or breaks a consulting project.

Therefore, in order to attract, retain and develop effective administrators, it is important to define and manage these roles beyond a mere cost of doing business.  Rather, effective administrators are an investment in the firm’s capacity and capability.

Their remuneration and incentives should be more closely tied to the consulting outcomes they help facilitate.  And whether overtly or not, their time and expertise should be factored in to the cost charged to clients.  Moreover, effective administrators should also be given appropriate opportunities for professional development and advancement through the firm.

In many ways, the term administrator itself is outdated and devalues the work that these ‘support’ staff do.  It’s time for many consulting firms to adjust their thinking and consider their effective administrators as consulting facilitators who add important value to the consulting practice of the firm.

// Alec Schumann


About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

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